tonigh tonight on "nightline," snow day. call it what you want, a new storm is blanketing much of the country with record-breaking snowfalls, paralyzing travel for millions. sam champion explains why so many are being buried. plus, march of the penguins. we take a remarkable journey into the world's largest penguin colonies to see how these kwir can i creatures live, how they love, and how they sound. so, why are they disappearing. and, losing it. michelle obama pledges to help american children lose weight. tonight, she tells us how she'll do it, and why she worried about
her own two daughters. it's the "nightline" interview with the first lady. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, martin bashir, and cynthia mcfadden in new york city, this is "nightline," february 9th, 2010. good evening, i'm cynthia mcfadden. and we begin tonight, not with politics or religion, but with america's other favorite topic, weather. it has been a historic winter, and at this hour, another massive snowstorm is dumping fresh snow across a wide swath of the country, blanketing chicago and the nation's capital, a city still buried by a weekend blizzard. thousands of flights have been canceled and millions of americans will wake up tomorrow to start digging out once again. sam champion has tonight's report. >> reporter: here we go again. just days since the last record snowfall, and the eastern half of the nation is bracing for round cho, which will make this
oner the one of the snowiest ever. bat more, philadelphia and atlantic city all poised to set snowfall records. today, the latest storm kicked off in the midwest. treacherous roads were the rule. from illinois to michigan to ohio. >> here's the bulls-eye. >> big snowflakes coming through. >> 6 to 12 inch snowfall. >> there is a winter storm warning in effect. >> reporter: and tonight, the storm is pushing east. >> this is the worst winter i've had to experience. >> we've never had two storms of this magnitude this close together before, so it should be interesting to see. >> reporter: here's why this storm is difficult to forecast. we're watching two loums move across the country. one wet, and one car rig it own snow. they're supposed to form together as one big storm on wednesday and it's a very narrow band of heavy snow. if the storm is a little farther out in the atlantic, we miss
that narrow band of snow. if it moves closer to the coast, that means more sleet, and that brings the snowfall totals down, as well. as the forecast stands tonight, d.c. is expecting 8 to 12 inches of snow. baltimore, 10 to 15 inches, and philadelphia could get another 20 inches of snow. new york, which dodged the brunt of the storm last weekend, could get as much as 18 inches this time. a lot of it coming as the storm strengthens wednesday. people are bracing for the worst, stocking up to stay indoors. >> we bought milk, cold cuts, canned stuff. what else? bread. and two muffins. >> reporter: airlines have us suspended as many at 6,000 flights. most airports like like this. here at dulles airport in northern virginia, operation workers are taking advantage of a lull to catch up. janine and her husband joe have been working nonstop for four days. >> if we don't clean and clear what we have, it will make it
more difficult down the road to try and remove snow and build it up. right now, we've had 32 inches with this past storm. we're expecting 10 to 12 more inches. if we don't remove the snow around the lights now, they're going to be buried. then it will make it very difficult to find them later when we want to plow the snow. plus, then an aircraft can't see the edge of the runway or taxiway. >> reporter: washington, d.c. is still virtually shut down, trying to dig out. >> i'm suffering from snow fatigue right now. >> reporter: many side streets remain unplowed. thousands are still buried, and without power. >> the first night, we couldn't keep up with the snow because it was coming down so hard and so fast and so continuous. it was hard to keep up with it. and many people felt like, many of our coworkers felt like we were fighting a losing battle. >> reporter: many fear they just don't have enough of snowplows,
and are running out of salt. >> hopefully the snow will fall in smaller of increments that we can do a lot of the picking up as we go along and we'll be ready as much as possible for business to run as smoothly as possible on thursday. >> reporter: while the mayor's hoping things will be smoother by thursday, nobody's predicting that about tomorrow. in the meantime, the storm is giving everyone at home a chance to play youtube weatherman. >> oh my god. there's snow everywhere! there's so much snow! >> and though many businesses and schools are shut down in the eastern half of the nation, it doesn't mean people are just staying home. outside of philadelphia's museum of art, this guy skied down the steps made famous in the film "rocky." and thousands showed up for a snowball fight organized on facebook. making the most out of a couple
of really long snow days. and expecting maybe even a few more to come. i'm sam champion for "nightline" in new york. >> most schools have been canceled here in new york. expect snow angels in central park. and speaking of snow, what's black and white and wobbles all over? when we come back, a journey into the world of the penguin, and the woman who is trying to save them. boss: hey, those gecko ringtones you put on our website are wonderful. people love 'em! gecko: yeah, thank you sir. turnedout nice. boss: got another one for you. anncr: at geico.com, it's eay to get a free rate quote, manage your policy, make payments or even file a claim! boss: now that's a ringtone. gecko: uh yeah...it's interestng.... certainly not the worst rigtone i've ever heard... ♪ ringtone lyrics: a-ringedy- ding-ding-dingy-dong, ringdy-dong-ding-ding... ♪ gecko (to himself): yeah, that might be the worst. anncr: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car inurance.
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we move now we move now to the southern tip of argentina, and abon anim story. you have to have a heart of steel not to love a penguin. from their formal attire to that unmistaken waddle, penguins quite simply make human becomes smile. so, why are they disappearing? one woman has made it her mission to save them. jeffrey kofman has the report for our series "into the wild." >> reporter: if you were to think of penguin colonies as cities, this would be manhattan. it is punta tombo in argentina's patagonia region. at this time of year, this spectacular pen ninls la insulao half a million penguins, the largest colony in the world. and at this time of year, it is also home to dee boersma. why penguins? >> why not? they're comical, they're endaring, and this is a spe spectacle of nature.
>> reporter: what is also incredible what this biologist from the university of washington in seattle knows about these penguins. >> there's a man. >> reporter: in her three decades here, boersma has banded more than 60,000 penguins. >> okay so, i just looked at 152 birds and one of them's got a band. >> reporter: she's tracked generations of them and documented an alarming decline in the penguin population here. >> penguins are really telling us that our world isn't doing well. >> reporter: boersma is one of the world's leading experts on these oh, so charming, oh so quirky creatures. she has inadvertently become an expert on penguin romance. >> he's courting. >> reporter: when they're familial, do they stay with the same couple? >> reporter: do you think people are? >> reporter: you are asking me on network television to -- >> you're asking me to talk about penguins.
>> reporter: you're going to tell me that penguins are faithful during season but after that, they move on. >> we've had some pairs that have stayed together 16 years, so that's really high fidelity. they're mon nothing mouse but not necessarily faithful. >> reporter: they move from one pair to another. >> yes. >> reporter: by late afternoon, a strange sound punctures the air. it is no accident that early settlers called them jackass penguins, because they bray like a don key. >> that noise that you're hearing, a couple has just come back, so one of the pair was gone and they've just returned. >> reporter: returned from a fishing expetitiditionexpeditio. >> that's the greeting. hi, honey, i'm home. >> reporter: as the sun starts to set, very late in the day when you are this far south this time of the year, the beaches of punta tombo fill with wet, weary penguins. >> they're coming back to feed their chicks.
they've been gone for several days and they are coming back so fat because they have to bring back fish to be able to feed. >> reporter: how long -- how far do they go? >> about 150 kilometers away from this colony. >> reporter: how does she know that? she tracks her ping wins by satelli satellite. >> reporter: who wore this? >> this guy right in here. >> reporter: what did he tell but the travels? >> he told us this year that they're going pretty far. >> reporter: they used to think that penguins went 20 to 30 miles offshore to feed. boersma discovered they can swim hundreds of miles on a foraging trip. once the chicks are born, the trips can't last more than two or three days. >> it's got a dead check in there. >> reporter: even in this pristine, remote stretch of ocean, penguins are having to go further and further to fill their billies with feed. >> they are going about 40 kilometers further. 25 miles further now than they did ten years ago.
>> reporter: if they are going 100 miles to get food -- >> yes. >> reporter: what is another 25 miles? >> well, you have to swim it back, too. that's another 50 miles. how much does your gas cost for your car? they have to pay for the cost in terms of having more fish and more time away. so, they pay for it physically. >> reporter: boerps ma is finding that the parents are coming back later, with fewer fish in their bellies, and here is the result. >> i mean, it's too bad. look at this one, she's already lost it. >> that's a dead chick there. >> reporter: is he warm still? >> yeah, he is. >> reporter: you think he just expired. >> yeah. >> reporter: she came home -- >> it was too late. he had to eat sooner. is it she? yeah, she came home. >> reporter: and scenes like this will always happen in nail sure, boersma's annual census of the penguin population has found it's down 20% in 25 years. and what is your theory? >> they have to travel further to find the food. the food is just not here.
and part of that is probably climate change. it changes the distribution of prey and it changes, then, where the penguins have to go to find it. i guess i hope that people become a little better about looking at the rest of the world and not just themselves. we got to us what we're doing wrong and what we're doing right. >> reporter: there are still a lot of penguins to be seen here and elsewhere along the ghosts of south america. >> this is the high density area, and what you're seeing here is the real estate where penguins can really dig deep burr ropes. so, this is the best quality nesting. >> reporter: it goes on as far as the eye can see. >> this is about 12,000 pairs, right in this area. >> reporter: but 12 of the world's 18 penguin species are listed as either threatened or endangers, as they hab gnat is destroyed and warming oceans threaten their survival. >> reporter: do you see this colony as peng wirns as one
indicator of the health of the planet? >> penguins are seessential tin nalls. they are telling us what's happening on land as well as the water. >> reporter: it is easy to share boersma's fascination with these endlessly entertaining creatures. but while the science here has obvious and charming dividends -- >> he's trying to help me. >> reporter: it is serious. dee boersma believes that through science, the penguins are telling us something about the planet we share, and that we need to listen to them. i'm jeffrey kofman for "nightline" in punta tombo, argentina. >> they have a tip about parenting, by the way. the means split time with the females, keeping the eggs warm. you have to love that. when we come back, michelle obama's pledge to fight childhood obesity. how did her kids influence her call to action? robin roberts has the abc news exclusive. [ male announcer ] how do the editors of consumers digest determine if a car is a best buy?
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the epidemic of childhood obesity. with an estimated 1 in 3 american kids considered overweight. now tomorrow, the new england journal of medicine will publish a study that finds that obese children are more than twice as likely to die before the age of 55 from disease than others. but first lady michelle obama says there is something to be done, and as she told my colleague robin roberts in "the nightline interview." >> reporter: obesity plagues millions of children in this country. and for the first time in our history, this generation might have a shorter life span than their parents. >> 1 in 3 kids are overweight or obese, and we're spending $150 billion a year treating obesity-related illnesses so, we know this is a problem, and there's a lot at stake. >> and now, first lady michelle obama is calling for action. this morning, president obama signed a memorandum, creating a
task force on childhood obesity. >> now they get to work. >> reporter: mrs. obama launched the program this afternoon. >> this isn't like a disease where we're still waiting for the cure to be discovered. we know the cure for this. this isn't like putting a man on the moon or inventing the internet. it doesn't take a stroke of j genius or feat of technology. >> reporter: the initiative is called "let's move." and with the help of the federal government, nonprofits and the private sector, mrs. obama hopes to change the way children eat and exercise. we sat down with her to talk about the program. the numbers are staggering. how can that simply be? >> that's a wakeup call. if we think about it, we can see how we got here. families are incredibly busy now, and they just don't have time to cook a meal. often times they can't afford fresh produce. tv is becoming more of a -- of a source of entertainment.
neighborhoods aren't as close so kids aren't doing the walking to school and playing outside until dark and a lot of times people don't have the information that they need to make good choices, so we're here. >> reporter: the initiative has four main goals. to improve awareness about good nutrition. to increase access to fresh produce. to serve healthier food in schools. and to get kids moving again. >> so, let's move! and i mean, literally, let's move. let's find new ways for kids to be physically active, both in and out of schools. >> reporter: mrs. obama raised some eyebrows recently when she talked about concerns over her daughter's health. >> we were fortunate enough to have a pediatrician, as i've mentioned, that kind of waved the red flag for me as a mother. and basically cautioned me that i had to take a look at my own
children's bmi. >> reporter: there were quite a few that said, wait a minute, have you gone too far here in bringing your children into this discussion because they see sasha and malia and don't feel that they really are part of this obesity that you're talking about with children. critics argue that such intense phone us can on weight might trigger body image issues in children, especially in girls. >> i understand the sensitivity around the entire conversation, particularly as a mother with girls, i mean, this conversation is not about just weight or size or bmi. it's about overall health. >> reporter: let's move aims to bolster physical education programs, which are being eliminated in many schools around the country. >> when we were growing up, it wasn't a choice. it wasn't, you either learn how to read or you learn how to run. we did both. and we have to get back to that point in our lives where we're not making these false choices. >> reporter: the first lady also
hopes to work with food manufacturers to make food labels easier to understand. >> we're going to be working the fda with manufacturers and retailers to do better front of package labeling for consumers so that a mom can pick up an item and sort of know what she's getting right away, and not sort of wonder, what are the ingredients, i can't pronounce them, is this good, is this healthy? >> reporter: there are some people that say, i don't want you, i don't want anyone telling me what i should or should not eat. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> reporter: and they feel like it is personal responsibility and the government should not have a role. how do you respond to that? >> i completely agree. i just happen to be the first lady with a platform that may be able to shine a light on some of the suggestions that people can implement in their lives. but this is a very individual problem, and it really varies, given locale, family structure,
budget. >> reporter: and, of course, the big question. will this approach actually provide tangible results? >> we want to eliminate this problem of childhood obesity in a generation. we want to get that done. we want our kids to face a different and more optimistic future in terms of their life span, and we think we can do it. >> reporter: i'm robin roberts for "nightline" in washington. >> an important issue. our thanks to robin roberts. when we come back, the president's press secretary mocks sarah palin's palm notes. but first, jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next on abc. >> jimmy: thanks, cynthia. tonight, two oscar nominees, maggie gyllenhaal, and ryan big am. also, david salmoni is here with a baby giraffe. first srted taking airborne
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